Lynne Mortimer - Did our black wheelie bin fall into the dustcart or was it stolen from our Ipswich home?

Lynne out searching for the missing black wheelie bin

Lynne out searching for the missing black wheelie bin - Credit: Archant

The Mysterious Case of the Missing Wheelie Bin or (with apologies to boomerangs) My Wheelie Bin Won’t Come Back.

Bin collection day is Tuesday and, with left-over Christmas stuffed into our black bin, we were keen to have it emptied. We wheeled it outside on to the footpath and parked it neatly beside the brown bin. I always try to leave them looking smart.

That evening, my husband gave me a lift home from work. It was dark and, unusually, not raining. As we parked, I noticed only the brown bin was outside where we left it. I assumed, as you do, it was just displaced. The men who empty them are diligent about putting them back but occasionally the bins form a small support group and hang out with each other in clumps. So I checked the bins next door... they belonged next door.

Neighbour Alex, who was putting away his bins, confirmed both our bins had been there at lunchtime. They had been counted and there had been two.

It was important, we felt to put our best efforts into recovering our black bin but trying to identify it, in the dark, with so many bins in the vicinity was, said my husband, like finding a Where’s Wheelie?

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There was no sign it but he remained calm: “Someone’s made off with our bin!” he said, jumping to conclusions without passing “go” or collecting £200.

“I don’t think so,” I said evenly. Someone had to stay strong.

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We spoke to other neighbours but they had seen nothing and had the right bins.

I sent my husband out into the night armed with a torch. He returned 10 minutes later and reported there was no sign of Lynne’s bin. I took the car and drove around the streets... just in case in pursuance of a youthful jape it had been transported into the nearby close. I even checked in a skip. I hope no one saw me and thought I was scavenging.

I went home with no news. A torchlight forensics sweep of the path yielded no clues. The bin had bin and gorn.

“What sort of people would take a wheelie bin?” asked my husband rhetorically.

I couldn’t imagine. I have heard of luxury cars being stolen and being whisked out of the country within hours of the theft but I couldn’t envisage a container full of hooky black bins sailing out of Felixstowe, destined for the lucrative second-hand wheelie bin markets of the world.

“Do you think we were targeted?” he continued.

A grudge crime? It didn’t seem likely.

I checked the day’s post to see if there was a ransom note. “We have your wheelie bin. Place £100 in a brown envelope and tape it to the inside of your wheelie bin lid... Ah, on second thoughts, we’ll call round.”

Drastic action was required. I emailed the neighbourhood group of which I am a member and asked if there had been any sightings, careful to give an accurate description of our home-crafted sticky label that shows our house number. There were no replies.

Alien abduction? If a passing alien happened to look like a wheelie bin, maybe he took a fancy to ours and claimed it for his own. Ours does (did) have very smart yellow livery.

In the end, I emailed the council to report that one of their bins was missing. The next morning, I followed it up with a phone call and was reassured I would be assigned a new one.

“Would you like some bin bags?” asked the council person. My cup runneth over.

As it would be a while before the new one arrived, I accepted. I also asked if he had any idea what might have happened to my missing bin.

He said it was possible it had fallen into the cart and was thus lost to the world. If you’ve seen Toy Story 3, you will appreciate how I felt. My poor bin, a sturdy helpmate for 20 years, gone forever. I have dangled over its edge, trying to find something I threw away in error.

I have pressed down its contents, hoping to make room for one more small item. It featured in the Rubbish Diet when I was challenged to reduce my landfill contributions by more earnest attention to recycling. BBC broadcasters have peered inside it. I’m really, wheelie sad...

Ah well, never mind.

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